Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Feature
The Genius Of Carlo Rambaldi
We look back at the special effects artist's best known creations

submit to reddit

1 2 3 4 5
Back 5 of 5  

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

There was never a literal description of what the title star looked like in Melissa Mathison’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial screenplay, the final character being a fully-fledged collaboration between director and special effects technician. The pre-visualisation process took in the familiar — concept drawings by storyboard artist Ed Verreaux, ten inch tall prototypes sculpted in clay — and the not so familiar (Spielberg cutting and pasting a picture of the chin and nose of a five-day old baby onto the eyes and forehead of an Albert Einstein image to create a mixture of the innocent and the wizened). Yet Rambaldi’s input into the design process was crucial. The technician had a Himalayan cat whose eyes fed into the creature’s peepers. And most tellingly Rambaldi’s 1952 painting Donne del Delta (Women Of The Delta) portrayed one of its female characters with an elongated face and neck that proved influential on the character’s trademark telescopic neck. Donald Duck was also a key influence — on the character’s tush.

Once Spielberg gave him the get-go, Rambaldi manufactured three E.T. torsos (plus accessories), hovering up $1.5 million of the film’s $10 million budget. 1. A lightweight electro-mechanical version that was bolted to the soundstage floor, capable of thirty points of movement in the face, then thirty more in the body. 2. A more sophisticated auto electronic body that was brought out for close-ups that had eighty-six separate points of movements. 3 a cable-less suit capable custom designed for E.T.’s walking scenes. Rambaldi also fashioned four separate heads, one mechanical, one radio controlled (for the walking scenes) and two electronic. The hero head was the electronic one, capable of 35 different facial tics at the forehead, lips, eyes, eyebrows and tongue (getting E.T. to taste the potato salad was a bitch apparently — the two operators often mistiming so the poor alien would bite his own tongue).

It took twelve crew members to operate E.T. on set and the director noted it was an “average of three takes per human and 15 takes per E.T.”. “E.T. was treated just like a real actor,” Rambaldi recalled. “Eating and speaking were the most difficult actions had to perform. For example, it was hard to get him to mouth “E.T. phone home.” The mouth is the maximum portion of mobility in the body, because there are so many muscles concentrated in that area. Operating E.T, in those places was very tough.”

Still, compared to Bruce the shark, E.T. worked a dream. He was even capable of pulling off practical jokes like a cable-controlled Jeremy Beadle. At different times throughout the shoot, surprised crew members would catch him smoking a cigar, picking his nose, winking at hot women and waddling around a corner wearing a gauze mask to protect him from the foggy sets. He also pinched screenwriter Melissa Mathison’s derriere. Jokey japes aside, E.T. remains Rambaldi’s crowning achievement: a special effect at the centre of the movie that you never once think of as a special effect. As Spielberg himself put it: “Carlo was the biggest hero of the film.”

1 2 3 4 5
Back
5 of 5
 

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

Your Comments

1 PPS...
...No mention of 'Possession'?!? More

Posted by glaive on Thursday August 16, 2012, 17:48

2 P.S...
A "man" in a Rick Baker suit!!?? It WAS Rick Baker in his own suit! Shame on you Empire!!!!! More

Posted by malestorm on Tuesday August 14, 2012, 07:53

3 You HAVE to be kidding!!??
Ok it was BIG and the hands were clever BUT the reason why it was only on screen for a few seconds was because it was shit!!!! Talk about biting off more than you can chew!! Rick Baker WAS Kong in that film, end of story and precious little credit did he get, no wonder he,s practically disowned any links withit, end of story t!! More

Posted by malestorm on Tuesday August 14, 2012, 07:50

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)